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article: 31 Jan 06

I missed the State of the Union Address tonight. Actually I didn't really miss it so much as choose not to hear it. After all, I doubted that W would stand up and say, "Ladies and gentlemen of the House, I have committed high crimes and treason, you have a Constitutional duty to pass a Bill of Impeachment." And I could have bet the farm that he would not tell the Senate they should vote to find him guilty and kick him and his whole sorry excuse for an administration out of office.

I inadvertently caught a brief bit of the Democratic response and almost gagged. The idiot was blathering about how it is time to heal our country and come together. Sounded like a doctor telling a terminal cancer patient to just eat some more chicken soup.

I've probably completely outraged a few of you already. Well, I guess it's time for a geography lesson. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

Yes, Al Gore has called for Bush's impeachment. And Ramsey Clark, the Attorney General under LBJ has drawn up Articles of Impeachment. But it isn't just Liberal Democrats talking about impeachment. Among others it's John Dean, counsel to Richard Nixon during watergate, probably one of the most knowledgable people alive in the area of illegal wiretaps and impeachment; it's Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has said he intends to hold hearings into Bush's warrantless wiretaps; it's Ron Paul, a Republican Representative from Texas; it's a number of Libertarians like Dr. Paul Craig Roberts , a former contributing editor for National Review (a solid conservative publication); it's Barron's Magazine, one of the most respected business magazines; it's Insight Magazine, the sister publication of the Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh's most oft quoted source.

For those of you who wonder what all of the fuss is about, here is a brief primer on one part of what is happening.

In the United States the President has to obey the Constitution and the laws.

The Supreme Court has the authority to interpret the Constitution. They ruled in UNITED STATES v. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, 407 U.S. 297 (1972):

As the Fourth Amendment is not absolute in its terms, our task is to examine and balance the basic values at stake in this case: the duty of Government to protect the domestic security, and the potential danger posed by unreasonable surveillance to individual privacy and free expression. If the legitimate need of Government to safeguard domestic security requires the use of electronic surveillance, the question is whether the needs of citizens for privacy and free expression may not be better protected by requiring a warrant before such surveillance is undertaken. We must also ask whether a warrant requirement would unduly frustrate the efforts of Government to protect itself from acts of subversion and overthrow directed against it.

The Fourth Amendment does not contemplate the executive officers of Government as neutral and disinterested magistrates. Their duty and responsibility are to enforce the laws, to investigate, and to prosecute. But those charged with this investigative and prosecutorial duty should not be the sole judges of when to utilize constitutionally sensitive means in pursuing their tasks. . The historical judgment, which the Fourth Amendment accepts, is that unreviewed executive discretion may yield too readily to pressures to obtain incriminating evidence and overlook potential invasions of privacy and protected speech.

We recognize, as we have before, the constitutional basis of the President's domestic security role, but we think it must be exercised in a manner compatible with the Fourth Amendment. In this case we hold that this requires an appropriate prior warrant procedure.

In other words, the President had to get a warrant before using electronic surveillance.

Congress responded to this, and to Nixon's wiretapping of his "enemies" by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This can be found in Title 50 of the US Codes beginning at section 1800. FISA made the following changes:

  • It establishes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court which can issue warrants without the party to be spied on knowing the warrant has been issued.
  • It allows for surveillance without a prior warrant as long as the application for the warrant is submitted within three days.
This removes the reasonable objections made by those trying to guard our country against terrorism. At the same time, it protects our liberties as Americans by requiring judicial review of who is being spied on and why. (Do you want President Bush spying on members of the ACLU? How about President H. R. Clinton spying on members of the NRA?)

FISA even went so far as to allow for surveillance without court warrants (50 USC 1802), but it does require that the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that, "there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party."

This and the Fourth Amendment are the laws that President Bush is breaking by using wiretaps on Americans in the US without a warrant. This is by his own admission in his radio broadcast of December 17, 2005. This is not the only charge that the President should have to answer, but it is on its face sufficient grounds for an impeachment and trial.

As long as the President does not obey the law we do not live in the democratic republic guaranteed by our Constitution. In the United States the President is not above the law and if he violates the law the Constitution says he should be impeached. If you don't like that, you are free to move to a country where the President is above the law; I suggest North Korea or, if you prefer a warmer climate, Cuba.

© 2006 Geo. McCalip